Pride and Prejudice
This is a delightful novel by Jane Austen that is based on a common desire of women around the world – to be well married! The wonderful blend of tenderness and humour with which the author deals with this universal subject gives it its unique appeal to generations of readers.
The story revolves around the Bennet family. The Bennets have five daughters supported by very little wealth. Mrs. Bennet is therefore eager to see that at least one of her daughters is married well. She is hopeful that her eldest daughter, Jane, who is extremely beautiful, will marry well. She seeks news about every rich, eligible bachelors around the neighbourhood in the hope of facilitating a match for her daughters. Much to her discomfiture, her husband does not take interest in this hobby of hers.
As it happens, two very rich men, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy come to stay in the neighbourhood along with Bigley’s sisters. The Bennets meet them at a local ball. Mr. Bingley openly admires Jane from the moment he sets his eyes on her. Jane’s sister, Elizabeth, is not quite as beautiful as Jane but has more intelligence catches Darcy’s attention. However, Darcy who is more discerning and more class-conscious finds Elizabeth wanting style and expresses his views on her in public. This enrages the fiery Elizabeth whose pride is hurt. She, in turn, is determined to dislike Darcy.
Subsequent meetings between the two gentlemen and the Bennet girls help in strengthening the feelings between Bingley and Jane. Darcy begins to find Elizabeth attractive owing to her expressive eyes and her exuberance. However, he is reserved about his feelings and continues to be guided by reason.
Around this time, army officers come into town and there is a lot of excitement among the young women. Elizabeth takes fancy to Wickham, a glib talker and an extremely handsome officer whose father had worked for the elder Darcy. He tells her that Darcy is very vengeful. Wickham fuels Elizabeth’s dislike of Darcy by recounting how Darcy had denied him a living promised by Darcy’s father.
Soon, it is obvious that Mr. Bingley is in love with Jane. His sisters observe this and are concerned as they want Bingley to marry Darcy’s sister. This is especially the fond hope of Miss. Bingley who hopes that an alliance between her brother and Darcy’s sister will facilitate her own marriage to Mr. Darcy.
Upon seeing her brother seriously interested in Jane, Miss Bingley discusses the matter with Darcy. Darcy prevails on Bingley. Suddenly the Bingleys leave the neighbourhood and return to London.
Jane is heart broken. Elizabeth, disappointed for her beloved sister, is not able to fathom Bingley’s sudden change of heart.
Elizabeth goes to visit her close friend, Charlotte who is married to Elizabeth’s cousin, Mr.Collins. Collins, is a clergyman under the patronage of Lady Catherine, Darcy’s aunt. Mr. Collins is extremely servile to Lady Catherine. The Collins receive dinner summons twice a week at her Ladyship’s residence. Elizabeth is also included in these invitations.
Darcy chances to visit his aunt along with a cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam at this time. Elizabeth likes Fitzwilliam’s company and goes with him on long walks. In one of her conversations with Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth discovers that Darcy had prevented Bingley from proposing to Jane. Elizabeth is infuriated with Darcy.
Darcy chooses this moment to declare his love for Elizabeth who rejects him instantly accusing him of breaking her sister’s heart. She also accuses him of denying Wickham the clergy despite the elder Mr. Darcy’s promises.
Darcy is shocked and surprised at the rejection. He writes a letter to her in which he replies to her accusations. He tells her that he had persuaded his friend to refrain from proposing to Jane as Darcy had felt that she did not reciprocate Bingley’s feelings. As for Wickham, Darcy says that Wickham had refused the clergy and taken moneyinstead. Darcy describes Wickham as a mercenary who had eloped with Darcy’s underage sister and sought money to leave her. Elizabeth is confounded.
Some months later, Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle invite Elizabeth for the tour of the Lake Districts of Northern England where Darcy’s family home, Pemberly, is situated. They visit Pemberly and Elizabeth is surprised that contrary to Wickham’s accounts of Darcy; the housekeeper holds her master in high esteem. Elizabeth has a chance meeting with Darcy here and he plays a most attentive host. Elizabeth finds him a changed man and begins to revise her opinion of him.
In the meanwhile, Elizabeth’s youngest sister, Lydia, elopes with Wickham. Elizabeth returns home after reluctantly giving Darcy this news. Fortunately the matter is resolved and Wickham marries Lydia. Elizabeth learns from Lydia that Darcy had played a role at her wedding. She inquires further information from her aunt who reveals that Darcy was pivotal in ensuring that Wickham marry Lydia. Elizabeth’s opinion of Darcy is completely revised.
Shortly after, Bingley and Darcy return to the neighbourhood. The two men call on the Bennets. Bingley and Jane revive their friendship. After a couple of meetings, Bingley proposes marriage to Jane who accepts. When Elizabeth gets an opportunity to be alone with Darcy, she thanks him for what he had done for Lydia. He says he thought only about Elizabeth. He then proposes marriage to her again and this time she accepts gladly.